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Roughhousing: Good old-fashioned horseplay or accident waiting to happen?

June 14, 2011 at 3:09 PM ET

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A diagram of how to properly (and safely) do the Underdog activity, in "The Art of Roughhousing." This book is a parenting guide to good old-fashioned horseplay.

Two dads have come out with a new parenting guide that teaches, among other things, the art of a "Raucous Pillow Fight" ("the best pillows for whacking are the big, fluffy kind") to mattress rafting (yes, a mattress is required) and "suspension" play ("you can incorporate suspension into almost any flight move; just make sure it causes delight, not panic.") 

Helicopter parents, stand down. In "The Art of Roughhousing," authors Anthony DeBenedet and Lawrence Cohen are showing parents how to engage their kids in rowdy, unadulterated horseplay.

In this Associated Press story about the book, the authors explain that roughhousing "need not leave kids revved up or promote violence. It can actually makes kids smarter, emotionally intelligent, likable -- even lovable."

In the book, each activity comes with a '50s-style visual aid, plus a guide to the ages of kids it can benefit, the level of difficulty and the "essential skills' it offers.

Pillow fights, it seems, have a diffculty of "easy" and is for kids 4 and up. It teaches losing and winning. And, before you think someone's going to lose an eye, the book cautions:

"When battling your opponent, always hold the zippered part of the pillow and whack with the other end to prevent injuries like eyeball lacerations."

See? These dads have got you covered. Roughhousing is a crucial part of childhood, they say, and ultimately helps kids' self esteem and physical development.

"When we roughhouse with our kids, we model for them how someone bigger and stronger holds back," the authors write. "We teach them self-control, fairness and empathy. We let them win, which gives them confidence and demonstrates that winning isn't everything."

What do you think? Do you consider roughhousing as good, old-fashioned horseplay or an accident waiting to happen?

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